2020 has cast a glaring light on the racial and socioeconomic inequalities running rampant within our communities. The COVID-19 pandemic sweeping the world and our nation, has disproportionately affected African Americans and People of Color, who – due to gross economic disparities – make up the largest percentage of essential workers. This has pulled back the curtain on the realities of systemic racism and the persecution of the Black community, with an intensified spotlight on police brutality, and the growing Black Lives Matter movement across the country and globe demanding meaningful change.
Some may be asking how the year can be 2020 and we still have made seemingly little progress on the road to true equity. The reality is that enacting meaningful change requires a restructure of the very interrelated systems that built, perpetuate, grow and profit off this disparity. This is why within many organizations, while DE&I gets a lot of lip service, there is too often a disconnect between how organizations portray themselves and the actual work they are doing to justify that portrayal.
So how do you, as an HR or Talent Acquisition leader, make sure that your organization gives DE&I more than just lip service – and convince a group of homogeneous senior level executives that you need dedicated resources to achieve a successful Diversity, Equity & Inclusion program? That’s where the relentless case becomes necessary.
You must be relentless when it comes to requiring your organization to hire more people from underrepresented groups, creating a more equitable and inclusive place to work at, even if at first you do not have the allyship and support of the decision makers. Do not give up! We need you! But let me be clear that DE&I is not the sole responsibility of HR or Talent Acquisition Leaders. It is everyone’s responsibility and full adoption of this critical priority needs to be led and modeled from the top-down in order to achieve real progress.
Organizations Should Represent Their Communities
There is no secret that we still have a white male majority across corporate America and more so in leadership positions. According to Fortune, white men account for 72% of leadership positions at 16 Fortune 500 companies. When we isolate for executive roles, the white male overrepresentation is even more drastic. Amongst Fortune 500 companies, there are just 3 Black CEOs, 11 Latino CEOs, and 33 women CEOs. Unfortunately, today there is not one Black woman CEO represented within the Fortune 500.
These numbers are at complete odds with the makeup of our larger society. In fact, America is only becoming more diverse. By the year 2065, America will not have any single ethnic or racial majority. Therefore, organizations who lack diversity in their workforce are likely to make business decisions and produce products/services that are out of touch with the communities they serve.
Try This: Consider your organization. Where are your customers located geographically? Does your company's product or service cater to specific socioeconomic, cultural, or underrepresented groups? Is your company targeting new market segments, and if so what are the demographics of that audience? Then, relate this back to your organization’s current workforce. Does your organization reflect the communities it serves?
Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Initiatives Drive Better Results
The proof is in the numbers – DE&I isn’t just the right thing to do, it’s also the smart thing to do. Research shows that diversity is a key driver of innovation within an organization. A 2017 study examined 3,000 of the largest publicly traded companies in the U.S. and found that companies with a diverse workforce who took action to retain and promote employees with underrepresented backgrounds had higher innovation results. The researchers were able to prove that this wasn’t just coincidence and that diverse backgrounds and experiences lead to increased innovation and expanding the reach of your product and services.
Hiring and engaging talent with diverse backgrounds also positively impacts a company’s bottom line. Mckinsey’s 2020 Diversity Report found that companies in the top quartile for racial and ethnic diversity are 36 percent more likely to have financial returns above their respective national industry medians. Companies in the top quartile for gender diversity are 25 percent more likely to have financial returns above their respective national industry medians. Diversity doesn’t just impact productivity, but it is directly tied to a company's earnings. For every 10 percent increase in racial and ethnic diversity on the executive team of a company, earnings rise 0.8 percent.
Try this: You can’t improve what you can’t measure. Start with a clear breakdown of your current workplace diversity. As you implement more inclusive and unbiased recruiting practices, continue to analyze your recruiting pipeline to understand the success of your initiatives and identify areas of dropoff for underrepresented talent. Additionally, analyze your workforce teams and departments to see if there are areas of drop off for underrepresented employees in terms of retention, development and promotion. Then, deploy anonymous candidate surveys to measure candidate satisfaction as it relates to the inclusivity and equitability of your recruiting process.
You Can’t Achieve DE&I Goals Without Equity & Inclusion
During the COVID-19 pandemic, Mattel’s overall sales fell by 15% but Barbie sales rose 7% to almost $200 million. Barbie sales helped Mattel shares up as much as 7.9%. Correlation? Mattel is creating more diverse barbies representing our communities. More than 1/5 of the barbies sold were Black. And how does Mattel achieve this? By creating a more diverse, equitable, and inclusive workforce. In fact, they publish their DE&I goals on their website.
You’ll notice that while achieving equal representation amongst their workforce is a key component of Mattel’s DE&I goals, they don’t stop there. Mattel is also putting in the work to support and retain employees from historically marginalized communities by committing to 100% pay equity for all employees performing similar work.
Focusing solely on hiring for increasing diversity will not solve the problem if you do not have an equitable or inclusive workplace. An employee from an underrepresented community that does not have an equitable and visible path to promotion, sponsorship within the company, nor a safe environment that can share and be valued for their ideas and contributions will no doubt leave. The real hard work comes in with providing equity for all and creating an inclusive and safe environment for all. That is where organizations will strive for achieving the best place to work at.
Try this: Perform an audit of your current workplace policies. Consider your practices around compensation, meeting formats, employee conduct policies, employee feedback, professional development opportunities, and employee resource groups. Do each of these policies take into consideration inherent inequity and have intentional course corrections built in? Conducting anonymous employee surveys will also provide insight into equity gaps in your workplace culture. Then, set DE&I goals that address these gaps.
When presenting the case for DE&I initiatives, you’ll want to start laying out the next steps. It can be difficult to retain and promote employees from underrepresented communities if you don’t have any, that’s why many companies start at the source, with recruiting.
Adopting a tool like Entelo Diversity allows companies to ensure their candidate pools are diverse from the get-go, including many candidates who may have been overlooked by unconscious bias and the consequences of the narratives that perpetuate systemic racism. However, adopting technology is just one piece of your overall strategy. You also need training for your company to have a deeper understanding of A to Z of Diversity within hiring, Inclusion and Unconscious Bias and Anti-Racism training for the entire company (all roles and all levels). Every company is unique so your initiatives should reflect that.
If you’re interested in learning more about Entelo Diversity, sign up for a demo today.